HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


cast iron pan size

alright, so i'm in the market to purchase a cast iron skillet. it's going to be used for 2 people. should i go with a 10" or get a 12" just in case? any suggestions are welcome. TIA

one more question. is the diameter in pans referring to the bottom of the pan or the top opening? and seeing the pictures the sides seem pretty steep, so if they don't slant very much i think a 10" might work. i guess i could go see them at a store somewhere around here, but i trust and would like to hear the opinions from fellow ch'ers

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Get both. You can never have too many cast iron pans.

    (Well, I suppose you can, but two does not qualify as 'too many'!)

    1. Get a 10". I love my cast iron pan that used to be my dad's, but I find it is a bit too big at 12" on the bottom & 14" at the rim. Harder to find cheap splatter screens, crowds the other burners a little, and requires some changes in baking time for cornbread, german pancakes, etc. It was used for 4 people with leftovers for years, and now it's used for one or two people at most. It is nice for baking tortillas, roti, smallish dosas, and any other large flatbread.
      The good thing about getting two is that you can easily make any pressed & grilled sandwiches if you get a nesting-sized pair. I understand that homemade cuban pressed sandwiches defy belief.
      Perhaps consider getting the larger one as a flat-bottomed skillet, but get the smaller with grilling ridges.

      1. I have both- along with two smaller sizes! Love them noth, too. I use the 12 inch for oven roasting. Made a pork roast with apple stuffing this weekend. Use both of them for home fries, bacon, cornbread. As another poster said- you cannot have too many cast iron. I will say, the large pan is heavy.

        1. I have 8", 10" and 12". I use the 8" and 10" most often. The 12" comes out 2-3 times a year.

          1. thank you all so much for your input. i was thinking about getting both considering the price point. however, the kitchen isn't too large and i don't know if i have ample room for 2 pans. i think i'm leaning towards the 10". but i guess i'll go see them in person and make my choice then. thanks again for your help.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ktown378

              Right, they aren't that expensive, and two won't take up that much more room than one. On the other hand, they aren't going to quit making them. You certainly can get one now and one later.

              1. re: yayadave

                And one thing about cast iron, as opposed to pans with delicate finishes (nonstick, etc.), is that you can stach 'em up without worry about scratching them or harming them in any way, so as long as you're not hanging them (and you'de better have one strong pot rack to hang cast iron!), two don't take up any more space than one. Like Macca, my mother's always had her most-used cast iron pans stacked on the back burner of the stove.

              2. re: ktown378

                I keep my two large cast irons pans in the stove when I am not using them. They are easy to get to - and that's good, cuz they are heavy!

              3. Are you talking about Le Creuset type cast iron or Lodge (either preseasoned or unseasoned)? Unless you're prepared to never wash the unseasoned pan, or keep the seasoned pan with a lot of care, I recommend the Le Creuset with the black cooking surface and the brightly colored bottom and sides. Sure, they cost more but they will last as long as you can cook. One of each 10" and 12" will do it for you. Get one of those $19 aluminum covers with a circle of glass near the central black knob and a few ventilation holes, and it will do for the times when you want to cook something that needs water or liquid in it; and get a spatter shield for the times when you don't want grease flying around. All will serve you in good stead and, as they told me, will last longer than you will.

                1. Get a set.

                  So cheap. Go to a discount store and you can have 3 to 4 Lodge pans for just less than nothing.

                  My kitchen is REALLY small but you can stack them with paper towels between each pan and they fit the same foot print as the biggest pan.

                  1. yes, i plan to stop by a ross nearby. i read on another post that they sell them for cheap there. it doesn't really matter if it is preseasoned or regular. i read that it's not hard to season at all, it's just that i'd rather just have one pan and i was wondering if the 10" would be adequate for 2 people. thanks again guys and gals. appreciate the input.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ktown378

                      If you only get one pan, I would say the 10 is fine.

                      1. re: ktown378

                        i saw some LC at Marshalls but they weren't discounted that much and they were 2nds (clearly labled as such)

                      2. I have the Lodge style pans, and I they are not high maintenance at all.AS a matter of fact, I think they are almost indestructible! Three of the pans belonged to my grandmother, and I bought one of them.
                        On the pan that I purchased, I used for about a month just cooking bacon in it- seasoned perfectly. And I don't know what you mean about never washing- I wash mine after every use-I don't use soap- just hot water. Nothing sticks, so there is no issue. And I dry completely before storing- putting paper towles between the pans.

                        1. We love our lodges... we have three... 8 which what we use most often, 12 for when we have company and want to do a lot at once and the monster 15 which we use for whole ducks... :)

                          I agree, get both because they both will come in SO handy when needbe! :)


                          1. O by the way! The recipes for tart tatin I've been looking at lately are for a 10 inch skillet, if that's of any concern to you.

                            1. Have an 10 and a 12. The twelve comes out for fish and chicken fries, works great, just more room. At the price they charge compared to "quality" cookware, getting both is almost a "no-brainer."

                              1. Yah, they are inexpensive. I used to drool over Le Creuset, 'till I realized that it costs at least three times as much & I'd never forgive myself if I chipped that coating. Cast Iron Black won't chip, is never out of style, and unlike that Harvest Gold & Avocado Green designer bowl set that you can't give away, everybody will volunteer to own it when you depart this world.

                                1. Get the Lodge cast iron skillets. Made in Tennessee. Cheaper ones made in China are cast from inferior iron and get hot spots. Lodge doesn't cost much more for something you'll have forever! I have some of my grandmother's cast iron and we salvaged some of my mother's from Katrina's floodwaters. And they are easy to maintain. Le Creuset chips.
                                  My 12" skillet lives on the stovetop since I use it virtually every day - as a griddle, saute pan, for one steak or several, and as a roasting pan. It is heavy and my hands are small so I find it hard to dump food out when it's really hot. I bought a 12" aluminum lid from a restaurant supply house since they don't make lids for these.
                                  I wash it quickly with kosher soap and a stiff brush to get food odor out and never, ever soak it. It's as non-stick as Teflon.

                                  1. hello, the nicest iron skillets in our kitchen were found in 'junque' (usually call themselves 'antique', but contents vary widely and mostly qualify as antique only marginally) shops, and include a 14 in. and a Wagner Ware -0- which is 10 in.diam. on its cooking surface. The next size down we have calls itself 9 3/4 in, but this dimension is from the rim edge, wider than the cooking surface from the flare as you note; it's more like 8+ in comparison. So the significance of the marked size differs with the manufacturer. If you have the time, and access to 'junque' stores (estate sales of older households, as well), consider getting a recycled skillet that's been well maintained/seasoned.
                                    As another respondent noted, anything bigger than 10 in. might crowd the adjacent burner(s), so that depends on your range. What do I use the 14 in. for? Frying whole, head-on trout; double-cooked fried potatoes, which get best crisped if there's only a single layer during the oven browning stage; and for browning chicken pieces (can't crowd 'em). Uses like these are why many folks are praising the 12 in. Conversely, I get a lot of use out of the 5 and 6 inchers (cooking surface diam.,the 6 in. is marked '3G1', a gauge size?) which take almost no cupboard space to store, and are perfect for frying one egg, or toasting whole spices, or warming up leftovers in the toaster oven in lunch/snack portions.
                                    Back to the orig. query, the size -0- pan I mentioned, which has a 10 in. cooking surface diam.,is 12 in. across rim to rim. have fun

                                    1. Like the other posters wrote, if you only are getting 1, get the 10 inch. Get Lodge. I have a collection up to 14". all are great - but bigger can get quite HEAVY..

                                      1. Lodge is great - I'd suggest avoiding the Lodge Logic pre-seasoned though. They are kind of a pain to take care of. You're better off getting plain cast iron and seasoning it yourself.

                                        1. Also, take a look on Amazon.com. Many qualify for Super Saver shipping which is free if you buy (I think) about $25 worth of stuff.

                                          Their prices are very good also and I bought a ton of my cast iron, literally as well as colloquially, from them.

                                          1. alright, i stopped by the local restaurant supply store and picked up a 10" pan for 10 dollars. very cheap. i figure if i ever need a pan bigger than the 10" i'll go pick up another.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: ktown378

                                              They won't quit making them and they're always available at flea markets and garage sales.

                                            2. Would 9" really be to small? I mean there are only 2 of use and I tend not to cook for left overs. Seems a bunch of people have a 9" LC marked down to $45 now

                                              1. 8" worked perfectly well when I was single, but is a little too small for two regular steaks, two grilled cheese sandwiches, four fried eggs, etc. 9" grill pan with taller sides is almost too heavy for me to lift, though, so I'm on the market for a stainless 12".

                                                1. I don't know whether they still have it, but I got a 2 piece (10" and 12") Lodge Logic frypan set at Costco (San Francisco or South San Francisco) for about $25.